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Whether you are a marketing coordinator, public relations director or business owner doing your own marketing, it pays to know a little bit about SEO. But what exactly do you need to know, and how can it help you? Great questions. I've put together this article to help you understand how SEO works with other areas of marketing, and how even a small business can benefit.
If you work in marketing, or are trying to improve marketing for your company, here are the top five things you should know about SEO:
The Truth About Keywords
SEO used to be all about keywords. So many people still think that in order to be successful in search, they have to print a list of keywords and shove them into the content of their site. Well, as an SEO consultant I don't recommend that my clients use keywords in this way anymore. Google has some pretty powerful Machine Learning mechanisms. The search engine does not need exact words, it can understand the context of what you're writing about. Yes, even if you use slightly different keywords than what's recommended.
Writing to satisfy a list of keywords distracts people from writing naturally. You will typically end up with better content if you skip the keywords and just focus on writing in-depth articles that are relevant to people who are buying your category of product.
That's not to say you can disregard keywords altogether. Keyword research is very valuable, and everyone on a marketing team should understand it. What keyword research does is help you understand what words and phrases people are using to discover products and services. This helps you get inside the consumers head, and structure your content to answer the questions people are asking. A good, free tool for keyword research is Answer the Public.
How to Work with Your SEO Team (If You Have One)
SEO touches on a lot of different areas of marketing and business. There are technical aspects to it, as well as social and psychological ones. By understanding what your SEO team does, you will be better poised to pull them in for support. Keep in mind that you aren't just asking for your help – often what you are doing will support SEO efforts so it's a win-win for your marketing strategy.
There's usually a lot of data available to your SEO team. If you are thinking about launching a campaign, it doesn't hurt to go to your SEO team and look for numbers that will help you decide what the content should be, and how it should be shared. Many SEO teams use Ahrefs to do a variety of research and monitoring. It requires a paid subscription, but if your company already has a subscription you can pull in your SEO team to help you use its benefits. By collaborating with your SEO team, they can help you understand the current market demand for certain products, perform competitor research and help you understand your niche.
If the goal of a campaign is to increase visibility and traffic to your website, you should definitely loop in your SEO team to make sure the right landing pages and access points.
And If You Don't Have an SEO Team …
If you are a small company competing in a big marketplace, investing in SEO may not be your best move. If you try to go up against the market leaders in rankings, you will get crushed. The way to work around this is to get some buzz first, and then explore a deeper SEO strategy. If you are starting out and want to fight the big guys, guerrilla marketing and word of mouth would fare much better in the early stages. As people start talking about you, you will get more hits on social media, and you will naturally see more mentions and links.
If your business is in this position, your best strategy is to think about SEO, but don't focus on it. When you create a website, pick a CMS that has SEO capabilities that are baked in automatically to help you with search engine friendly urls and setting up meta title & description. These are good things to do to make your site discoverable. Once you have the revenue, you can turn more focus to SEO.
SEO and Partner Marketing Go Hand-in-Hand
I'm using the term "Partner Marketing" pretty broadly here. Many aspects of marketing involve building partnerships, from branding and public relations to affiliate marketing and business development. SEO can support these efforts by providing the data and context your team needs to identify strong, strategic brand relationships.
This type of work is often already happening on the SEO side. As a consultant, I often include partnership building and link acquisition when I recommend SEO strategy to my clients. I identify potential partners using analytics & research on the SEO side, and then pass along that information to the business development team. But there's no reason why that relationship can't go both ways. So if you work in some aspect of partner marketing, I strongly recommend you get your SEO team on board. We can help identify the types of questions people are asking and the solutions they are looking for. This type of collaboration can benefit writers, paid media campaigns and PR.
Moz is Your Friend
If you want to learn more about implementing SEO improvements for your business, the best place is Moz. Their blog has a seemingly endless supply of articles from industry experts that cover everything from what beginners need to know to many advanced topics. I particularly like their Whiteboard Friday videos where an expert talk about ideas and recent developments in SEO, with easy-to-follow visuals. I also particularly like that they offer Moz Community where you can go to ask questions and participate in conversations with experienced SEO professionals.
As marketers, we know that integrating different resources can be beneficial to maximizing a campaign or even a single piece of content. I hope this has given you some insight into how SEO can support general marketing efforts. If you'd like to talk with me more about SEO, or how it can integrate with different levels of marketing, drop me a line.